Top UK Official: Human Trafficking Behind 39 Dead Migrants Found in Essex Truck
British politician Jackie Doyle-Price blames 'vile' business of people smuggling
Following the horrific discovery of 39 dead migrants in the back of a truck in Essex, UK on Wednesday, a British politician has said that human trafficking is behind the tragedy.
The bodies were discovered in the early hours of Wednesday and had been packed into the back of the truck that is thought to have come from Bulgaria.
Among the dead was at least one teenager.
The driver, named locally as 25-year-old Mo Robinson from Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
UK Parliament member, Jackie Doyle-Price, is blaming the “sickening news” on the “vile” business of people smuggling.
“People trafficking is a vile and dangerous business,” she tweeted. “Lets [sic] hope they bring these murderers to justice.”
According to the New York Post, Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, also blamed the trade for the “tragedy.”
“Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased but whatever the circumstances, it highlights the danger of migrant gangs people-smuggling on lorries,” he tweeted.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he was “appalled” by the “tragic incident.”
“My thoughts are with all those who lost their lives & their loved ones,” he wrote.
The death toll would make it the biggest such mass-casualty since 2000, when 58 people died in the back of a truck at the Port of Dover, according to the Times of London.
The victims suffocated when an air vent was shut to avoid being spotted at immigration checks, with the driver, Dutchman Perry Wacker, later jailed for 14 years for manslaughter.
Essex police said Wednesday they have yet to identify the 39 victims or where they came from.
Deputy police chief Pippa Mills, who said it “could be a lengthy process,” also refused to reveal the gender of the victims.
The truck is believed to have traveled from Ireland to Holyhead in Wales on Saturday via ferry, finally driving to Grays in Essex, where it was found around 1:40 a.m.
Bulgarian authorities said they could not yet confirm police claims that the truck had started its journey in Bulgaria.
“We are in contact with our embassy in London and with British authorities,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Tsvetana Krasteva said.
A 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder.
He remains in custody but has not been charged or identified.